President Donald Trump talked about NFL athletes who protested during the national anthem, and he got somewhat explicit about it.
Here’s the video of what he said:
“Luther and I, and everyone in this arena tonight are unified by the same great American values. We’re proud of our country,” Trump said.
“We respect our flag!” he exclaimed.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a b**ch off the field right now?” he said.
“He’s fired. He’s fired!” he reiterated as the crowd applauded wildly and chanted, “USA!”
“You know,” he added. “Some owner’s gonna do that. He’s gonna say that guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.”
“And that owner, they don’t know it, they don’t know it,” he continued, They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know – hey’ll be the most popular person for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
“Cuz that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, OK,” he concluded. “That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, OK? Everything that we stand for.”
Where did he say this?
Trump was speaking at a rally in Huntsville for Luther Strange, his pick for the Alabama special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became the U.S. Attorney General.
What was the reaction?
While Trump’s comments were a hit at his rally and are sure to thrill his base and others who criticize national anthem protesters, those on the other side were angered by his speech.
“Very revealing that the harshest language Trump has ever used as President was reserved for Black men protesting injustice,” said Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter advocate. “Trump was quicker and more vehement in his hatred of Colin Kaepernick’s non-violent protest than he was of Nazis. Take note of that,” tweeted another.
Why is this important?
It’s only important insofar as the media will obsess over his comments in order to try to distract from the agenda the president is trying to press forward. Some of his supporters have questioned whether these outbursts, while great for his base, sometimes detract from his mission.
President Trump minced no words when it came to how he feels about NFL players who protest the playing of the national anthem. Speaking at a rally in Alabama for Luther Strange, Republican candidate for Senate, Trump called the protesting players “SOB’s” and said he hoped they’d get “fired.”
Those comments drew a ton of cheers, and chants of “USA! USA! USA!” from the crowd. However, they sparked a different reaction from NFL players. Here’s a sampling of the player reaction from Twitter:
I can’t take anything our Celebrity in Chief says seriously. He’s a real life clown/troll 🤡
— George Iloka (@George_iloka) September 23, 2017
Responding to a tweet from activist Shaun King, who said the NFL Players Association was readying a response to Trump’s comments. Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah let his feelings be known:
It must embody the sentiment of what's been bottled up for years! https://t.co/0HjExuYgSQ
— Husain Abdullah (@HAbdullah39) September 23, 2017
Others had similar reactions of shock:
Unbelievable what he just said!! https://t.co/K5H58E3h43
— Cecil Shorts III (@CecilShortsIII) September 23, 2017
Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u smh
— Zach Brown (@ZachBrown_55) September 23, 2017
Did Zach Brown just tell President Trump to stick to politics? The whole point is, had NFL players stuck to football, Trump’s entire rant never would have happened. One could also argue, credibly, that issues of the anthem and patriotism are directly in the presidential wheelhouse.
Former player Matthew Cherry weighed in, poorly:
They really let Trump do and say whatever TF he wants. Shit is crazy.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) September 23, 2017
Who are “they?” Former Vikings kicker and noted activist for gay causes Chris Kluwe chimed in as well:
You want to send a message to NFL owners for the next CBA? Stage a sit-in against the president of the US. I guarantee they'll pay attention
— Cassandra (@ChrisWarcraft) September 23, 2017
If there’s one thing Chris Kluwe knows about, its how to get himself fired and never asked back. So if NFL players would like a taste of that, then by all means they should follow his advice.
Roger Goodell Responds to Donald Trump’s Comments on NFL, Protests:
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement Saturday morning after United States President Donald Trump criticized NFL players kneeling during the American national anthem and the league’s effort to remove fierce hits from the sport Friday night.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Trump said he wanted an NFL owner to immediately release a player who didn’t stand for the national anthem: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”
The President also said the league trying to legislate away hard hits was “ruining the game.”
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to kneel during the anthem during last year’s preseason. He was later joined by various athletes as a show of unity.
Kaepernick explained his actions to Steve Wyche of NFL.com in August 2016.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the Niners in March, has been unable to find a new team and remains a free agent with the 2017 season now in Week 3.
Meanwhile, the NFL has attempted to reduce the number of big hits, especially those aimed toward the head and neck area, due to concerns about the long-term impact of concussions and brain trauma.
The latest results released by the JAMA Network in July showed 99 percent of former NFL players (110 of 111) who had their brain studied after death were “neuropathologically diagnosed” with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.
Rather than reply directly to Trump’s comments, Goodell focused on the positive impact players have made by generating donations after recent hurricanes and the Mexican earthquake. Houston Texans star J.J. Watt drew national attention for raising over $37 million following Hurricane Harvey.
Sources: The Blaze, Breitbart, and Bleacher Report